…If that's not enticement enough, suffice it is to say Zig Zag Territories' Albinoni: Sinfonie a Cinque, Op. 2, is urgently recommended for those afflicted with a taste of high-quality Baroque music and will happily appeal to less specialized musical interests who just want to hear something pleasing, yet substantial.
Xavier de Maistre is generally fêted as the artist who has managed to liberate the harp from its reputation for wonderful but very soft sounds, and establish it as a solo instrument in the concert hall. On his album "Notte Veneziana", the internationally successful harp virtuoso plays well-known concertos by the Venetian composers Vivaldi, Marcello and Albinoni in new arrangements, combining them with original compositions for solo harp such as the sonata by Giovanni Pescetti, Godefroid’s stunning set of variations on the popular tune “Carnaval de Venise”, and “La Mandoline” by 19th-century composer Elias Parish Alvars.
The English Concert is a baroque orchestra playing on period instruments based in London. Founded in 1972 and directed from the harpsichord by Trevor Pinnock for 30 years, it is now directed by harpsichordist Harry Bicket. The orchestra has been led by Nadja Zwiener since September 2007. The English Concert was founded by Trevor Pinnock and others in November 1972. The date of foundation is often given as 1973, probably because they started with seven people and only later progressed onto the orchestral repertoire as their number increased. They were one of the first orchestras dedicated to performing baroque and early classical music on period instruments, their repertoire from then to now ranging approximately from Monteverdi to Mozart…
In this latest recording of works by Albinoni, Simon Standage directs Collegium Musicum 90 showcasing the rarely performed and recorded Op. 10 Concertos. As late as 1961, academics were unaware of Albinoni’s last set of concertos. All this changed when two small private collections were found to contain the print. Since then, the existence of Op.10 has been known to scholars, but awareness of it and curiosity about it has not really penetrated. Most of the Op.10 concertos have not been published in a modern edition, and the set has been recorded only twice before.
Although known almost exclusively for his instrumental concertos and the spurious Adagio attributed to him, Tomaso Albinoni was mainly a man of the theater; he composed 81 operas and, late in life, made his living as a singing coach. However, the best efforts of posterity to catch up with Albinoni's operatic creations are significantly stymied by the fact that only three of his stage works are fully extant, the rest preserved only in occasional and fugitive fragments in the form of single arias and other bits and pieces. "Il Nascimento dell'Aurora" is a serenata – or more specifically, a "festa pastorale" – a kind of courtly entertainment not really meant to be specifically dramatic or compelling and, in this case, dealing with the birth of Roman goddess of the dawn, Aurora ….
This compilation is a perfect work/study/contemplation CD, when you want to reduce the hum and din of modern life. It's wonderfully played, and has 23 tracks for a total of 72:45 minutes of melodic, serene music. The famous Adagio in G minor, so often heard in films, etc., is here given a lovely rendition. Played a little faster than most other versions, with the individual instruments (especially the harpsichord) being heard clearly. It's not as lush and smooth as some recordings, but crisper, and to my ears, absolutely delightful. It's hard to pick favorites among the other selections…each piece is a baroque beauty that flows well from one track to the next. I'm sure this CD will please most people who like 18th century music.
During the 1990s, Collegium Musicum 90 and Simon Standage released several volumes of Albinoni concertos, which proved popular with critics and public alike. The concertos were released as discs of single oboe concertos, double oboe concertos, and string concertos. In this re-issue on the Chaconne label, the concertos are presented in opus number order, showing the contrasting colours and tonalities of the concertos as they originally appeared.